Tampa Bay developer presents ballpark vision

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View from beyond outfield, within greater footprint

Today’s the day that the Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Petersburg were scheduled to hear about a ballpark plan that is located within the city, yet is more convenient to Tampa and Clearwater. The site is in Carillon, a mixed commercial development at the foot of the Sunshine Skyway Howard Frankland Bridge. Because of Carillon’s proximity to Tampa and Clearwater (north of downtown St. Pete), nearly double the population is within a 30 minute drive of the ballpark site compared to Tropicana Field.

Carillon site within the Tampa Bay metro

Carillon is already largely built out, and the developer, CityScape, has only 17+ acres on which to build the ballpark. Since regional public transportation is severely limited, the ballpark will require a significant amount of existing or new parking to meet potential demand. To that end, _ has identified 14,000 parking spaces within the Carillon development. As we’ve seen with Fremont’s Pacific Commons, negotiating parking rights can be very tricky.

Fixed roof Carillon ballpark option

Five ballpark configurations were presented, two with a fixed roof, two with a retractable roof, and one that’s open air. The roof options have either a fixed or retractable outfield wall, the latter of which adds an estimated $8 million to the cost. Open air is the cheapest option at $424 million, whereas the retractable roof/wall version will cost an estimated $577 million.

Various options for outfitting the ballpark

Within those 13 acres is one of the more interesting ballpark concepts presented recently. Hotels and offices loom above and behind the upper deck. A large parklike area sits beyond the outfield, surrounded by more offices. If Rogers Centre (SkyDome) mated with Rangers Ballpark, the offspring might look something like this. At only 35,000 seats it would be the smallest ballpark in MLB, depending on Cisco Field’s final capacity.

Retractable roof option

The proposal is being pitched by a third party, not the City or the Rays, so there’s an extra element of complication if something like this were to be executed successfully. Both the team and developer will want to make the most money possible, yet there’s a $250 million funding gap – and that’s if St. Pete allows the Trop tax to fund Carillon. At the moment Carillon appears to be the only new ballpark option emerging from St. Pete and has some support from the mayor and some members of the city council. Will that be good enough for Stuart Sternberg, who has wanted to explore Tampa along as St. Pete? We’ll see.

Hearing to compel deposition (S4SJ lawsuit)

Today’s hearing was brief at only 20 minutes. Attorneys for the City/A’s and S4SJ/Giants made their cases to Judge Joseph H. Huber. Quick rehash: City/S4SJ requests a deposition of the lawsuit petitioners (S4SJ and 5 individuals) to determine if they have standing. S4SJ/Giants believe that because of CEQA law, standing is already there. A secondary argument is whether or not the business relationship the Giants have with S4SJ represents a conflict of interest.

Judge Huber will decide if the deposition request will be granted. The decision will be made in the next couple of days. Regarding the business relationship, the judge noted that many cases involve outright competitors even if a legal challenge was first made on non-competitive grounds. I suspect that he’s leaning to allow the case to move forward without narrowing the scope to just CEQA issues. As for the deposition, we’ll just have to wait for his ruling.

Again, I have to question the wisdom of the City striking the discounted land deal with the A’s. If the land option were granted at “fair market value” S4SJ wouldn’t have been able to add that issue to the case. Assuming that the redevelopment land transfer legality matter were resolved in the near future, that would’ve left only CEQA and the referendum question as the main tenets of the case. As it stands it’s a muddled mess, with the judge wondering what the next steps are as there are no additional hearings or procedural items scheduled at this point. The wheels of justice only turn so swiftly.

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Side note: The attorney for the City/A’s mentioned that one of the lawsuit petitioners actually supported the A’s move to San Jose during a previous hearing. Curious.

Two tickets to paradise, if by paradise you mean a suite with Dave Stewart (Update: Winner announced)

Update 9/26 9:47 AM – The winner of the two tickets is Jeff Dvorak, whose down-on-his-luck story proved too hard to resist. Jeff, please email me in the next few hours at ml @ newballpark . org to claim the tickets, so that I can mail them to you in time.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Many entries were entertaining, some were downright heartwarming. Maybe we’ll do this again in the future…

Update 9/25 3:54 PM – Got confirmation that former A’s curveballer/Cy Young winner Bob Welch will be joining Stew in suite with the fans on Saturday.

A few weeks ago I finally bit and plunked down deposit for 2013 season tickets. In the process I had the option to get postseason strips (which I declined), and a little perk of two tickets to a suite for Saturday’s game against the Mariners. Unfortunately, I already have other plans for Saturday, so I won’t be able to make the game. So I have two tickets and I’d like to give them away.

To make this interesting, we’ll run a little contest. If you’re interested, either tweet me or reply to this post. I’ll take the best, most interesting response and give you the tickets. The subject matter of the comment or tweet has to be A’s related. I will not reveal my criteria for choosing the the best response. I’ll only say that it’s largely arbitrary and subject to change.

Interested? Fire away. You have until 11 PM on Wednesday night. I’ll mail out the tickets on Thursday.

Oh that evil, horrible dynamic pricing!

Tomorrow, Giants fans who are not season-ticket holders will finally get the chance to buy postseason tickets. Because of the continuous demand on Giants games, the team was able to leverage its large premium season ticket base to sell out much of its postseason inventory. That was followed by lottery for other season ticket holders, and tomorrow’s lottery winners (general public).

Contrast that with the A’s, who have a season ticket base that’s less than half the size of the Giants’. The A’s started selling tickets to the public a week ago, which followed a multi-week postseason strip/season ticket sale campaign. A week in and there are still plenty of tickets available via the primary market (Tickets.com) for a potential Wild Card game and Divisional Series. Just now I saw two tickets for the Wild Card game in Section 217, Row 15 for $46 apiece. Groups of 4 tickets are still available for ALDS Game 3. StubHub is full of overpriced choices if you didn’t act quickly enough a week ago, and while the dynamic pricing model has raised prices a bit above the A’s published baseline prices, it’s not nearly the gougefest that some had feared.

Comparison of 2013 postseason ticket prices using A’s pricing tiers and similar sections at Giants games

When you compare it to what the Giants are doing, there’s practically no comparison. Even with dynamic pricing, A’s playoff tickets frequently come in at 1/2 or 1/3 the price of similar seats across the bay. Even though the events of this excruciatingly long road trip have dampened spirits a bit, there’s still plenty of enthusiasm for the team, enough that these playoff games should sell out if the A’s qualify for the postseason (with the possible exception of a Home Game 3 that may never be scheduled). The notable trend to me is how, just as with regular season games, the “value-priced” Plaza Club simply fails to move the needle.

I also included the Orioles prices since they’re a team with a much smaller season ticket base as of late. The O’s don’t practice dynamic pricing, so the face value price is pretty much it except for some tickets that the team is selling as a package food-ticket deal.

When compared to other teams, it’s all a pretty good deal for A’s fans.

The 2014 MLB TV Windfall

Today’s report from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand indicates that MLB’s national television deals are just about locked in. We’ve discussed this a couple times now. I’ve done some rough math on it, and the financial picture looks even healthier than I previously projected. Sure, the TV deals will more than double in value, from $660 million to $1.55 billion. But it’s when that figure is coupled with all other sources of national revenue that the picture starts to really brighten.

Come 2014, every team could rake well over $80 million per year without selling a single ticket.

Come 2014, every team could rake well over $80 million per year without selling a single ticket.

The table above reflects rising revenues from every source except for Sirius XM, whose deal was locked in years ago with the money paid in advance. MLB Advanced Media, the internet and broadcasting subsidiary of MLB, admitted last year that it was hitting nearly $500 million in revenue just for 2010. Combine each team’s share with other non-TV sources (adjusted for inflation), and each team comes away with $31.8 million per year. All told, that’s an estimated $83.5 million per year.

That doesn’t even include the dividend each team ownership group gets as an equity partner in MLB AM.

Every team is going to get this windfall, so it’s not as if the A’s or Rays are getting some great competitive advantage. It will allow both teams to be able to confidently offer FA-competitive long-term deals to their own free agents, though $100 million payrolls are still probably beyond reach. To get $100 or $110 million payrolls, both teams will need new stadia. The impressive thing about these bumps is that the A’s will get $10-15 million more via Central Revenue than they get from playing in the Coliseum. Add in local TV/radio and the usual $30 million or so in annual revenue sharing, and the A’s should net $180-185 million per year starting in 2014. Not rich compared to the other teams, but a far cry from destitute.

Entire 2013 MLB Schedule (Tentative)

Two weeks ago MLB circulated its tentative 2013 schedule. I took a look at the A’s slice and made observations. Now it’s time to look at the entire league’s schedule, which was broken down by region to assist traveling fans looking to plan ballpark future trips. I’m getting a better hang of this.

The schedule is in four formats: Excel, PDF, Google Drive spreadsheet, and comma-delimited. When possible, those formats have also been repackaged  along regional lines. One of the PDFs has the regions color-coded, plus I’ve put specific games in bold that I’ve highlighted for trip-planning. The recommended trips – which allow fans to take in an entire region’s games on consecutive days – show up as follows:

  • California (5 teams) – 6 trips
  • Lake Michigan (4 teams) – 8
  • Rust Belt (4 teams) – 7
  • Northeast (6 teams) – 5

There are plenty of other trips that can be planned if you’re fine with skipping one or more ballparks. And if you want to do a weekend, there are multiple places to make that happen: Missouri, Florida, Texas, and the two-team markets.

Two items of note: A split doubleheader is planned for May 27, with the Texas Rangers visiting the Arizona Diamondbacks. The second game is listed on May 28. Obviously that’s an off day. That’s a split (day-night) doubleheader, not the 2-for-1 doubleheader we had last year when the Angels visited the A’s. Also, one opening day game is expected to be moved to Sunday, March 31. The schedule is subject to change. As this post cycles out, I’ll add a widget to the right with updated links.

The files:

Game times for many teams are available, but not all. I may add them at some point. Feedback is welcome, as always. You are free to distribute as you see fit – and please, spread the word.

News for 9/22/12

We’ll start with the lede, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler:

A’s owner Lew Wolff said Friday that he believes his team’s quest for a new ballpark will be settled within the next year.

Does that mean a new ballpark is about to rise in San Jose, Oakland or somewhere far away?

Not necessarily.

“I do think this long trek will be coming to an end,” Wolff said, in an interview with CBSSports.com. “I can’t predict the end.”

Wolff did suggest that he has no interest in either taking legal action or doing something that would lead to legal action from the Giants (who claim the San Jose territory). He also said he’s not interested in either selling the team or moving it out of the Bay Area.

“We’re going to persist in the Bay Area as long as we can,” he said. “It’s not a journey we’re going to cut short.”

Wolff’s latest statements he has indicate less confidence in the process that he has supported all this time. Maybe he has the same resolve as ever about San Jose, but the constant drag by the commissioner isn’t helping. Either way it appears that no outcome is certain. At least there will be an outcome, which is better than the team being in limbo as it has the last three years. One thing’s for certain: at least one group of people is going away from this mess extremely unhappy.

Update 10:52 AM – While in New York to catch part of the A’s current roadtrip, Wolff had a chance to explain further to the NY Times’ Tyler Kepner what he’s trying to build in San Jose. In addition to confirming that he and the rest of A’s ownership has the money to build a ballpark, Wolff also talked about how the high-tech concessions stands would work.

“All of our concession signs will be digital, so when you’re supposed to stop serving beer, you just press a button and it disappears,” Wolff said Friday over lunch at a Midtown Manhattan hotel. “And then if you have extra hot dogs, you can reduce the price.

“I mean, I’m being silly about it, but we’ve had plenty of years to think about this. It isn’t like all of a sudden we get approved and now we’ve got to start thinking about how our ballpark’s going to look. We’re really ready.”

Additionally, Buster Olney hears that Bud Selig is working the room to get enough votes to grant South Bay T-rights to the A’s. (via MLB Trade Rumors)

Other news:

  • The Angels denied a report that they were negotiating with Ed Roski’s Majestic Realty for the NFL stadium site in Industry. Whether the Angels were actually talking or not is moot. Industry is now a potential threat, albeit one that’s not very practical. The site had numerous challenges when the plan was for a 10 games-per-season NFL slate, 80-90 games would turn the hillside location into a second Dodger Stadium from a parking/circulation standpoint. The site, near the junction of CA-57 and CA-60, is also situated on a hillside that slopes down from southeast to northwest. That’s a poor orientation for siting a ballpark. [LA Times/Bill Shaikin]
  • El Paso’s City Council approved the $50 million AAA ballpark deal that could bring the Padres’ affiliate to town by 2014. The combination of rent, a ticket tax, and sworn parking revenues should bring in around $500,000 per year, not nearly enough to pay off the stadium on its own. The final say belongs with El Paso’s mayor, who will have until Thursday to approve or nix the deal. [El Paso Times/Cindy Ramirez]
  • After 10 years of abject failure, the “ballpark village” plan next to Busch Stadium is finally a go, thanks to million in subsidies coming from the State of MIssouri. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Elizabeth Crisp]
  • In case you haven’t heard, the NHL is in a lockout. [Yahoo Sports/Nicholas J. Cotsonika]
  • Barclays Center, the first major pro sports venue in Brooklyn since the Dodgers abandoned Ebbets Field, had its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday. {NY Times/Howard Beck]
  • Next Friday the 28th, the hearing to compel discovery in the Stand for San Jose vs. City of San Jose lawsuit will be held at 9 AM at Superior Court in downtown San Jose. I plan to observe.
  • Still awaiting the State Controller’s ruling on the legality of the Diridon land transfer.

That’s it for now.